A dosha is one of three substances that are present in our bodies. Ayurveda describes how the quantity and quality of these three substances fluctuates in the body, according to the seasons, time of day and diet.
The central concept of Ayurvedic medicine is the theory that health exists when there is balance between the three doshas, which are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
- Vāta or Vata (airy element). Is characterised by properties of dry, cold, light and movement. All movement in the body is due to the property of vata.
- Pitta is the fiery element or bile that’s secreted between the stomach and bowels and flowing through the liver and permeating spleen, heart, eyes, and skin; It is characterised by hotness, moist, liquid, sharp and sour, its chief quality is heat. It is the energy principle which uses bile to direct digestion and enhance metabolism. It is primarily characterised by body heat or burning sensation and redness
- Kapha is the watery element, it is characterised by heaviness, cold, tenderness, softness, slowness and the carrier of nutrients. It is the nourishing element of the body. All the soft organs are made by kapha, it plays an important role in taste perception and joint health.
Doshas are the forces that create the physical body, they determine our conditions of growth and aging, health and disease. Typically, one of the three doshas predominates and determines your constitution or mind-body type. By understanding our individual habits, emotional responses, and body type, we can adapt our yoga practice accordingly. The same goes for Ayurveda treatments focused on alleviating any doshic excesses (illness) via powerful herbs and/or via the improvement of general lifestyle practices such as pranayama, meditation and yoga postures.
Something will indicate when you have an excess of a dosha, as it throws your system off-balance. For example, with excess vata, there can be anxiety and digestive disorders, including low energy and weakening of body tissues. With excess pitta, there is toxic blood that gives rise to inflammation and infection. With excess kapha, there is an increase in mucus and a tendency to be overweight. The key to managing all doshas is taking care of vata, as it is the origin of the other two.
Prana, Tejas and Ojas
Yoga is an alchemical process of balancing and transforming energies of the psyche. At the root of vata, pitta and kapha are its subtle counterparts called prana, tejas and ojas. Unlike the doshas, which in excess create diseases, these promote health, creativity and well-being.
• Prana is our life force and is the healing energy of vata (air)
• Tejas is our inner radiance and is the healing energy of pitta (fire)
• Ojas is the ultimate energy reserve of the body derived from kapha (water)
Ayurveda seeks to reduce disease, in particular those that are chronic and to increase positive health in body and mind via these three vital essences that aid in renewal and transformation. Increased Prana gives us more enthusiasm, adaptability and creativity, all necessary when pursuing our spiritual path, in yoga this force is necessary to enable us to perform. Tejas provide us with courage, fearlessness and insight, important when taking decisions. Lastly, ojas gives us peace, confidence and patience to keep our development consistent and avoid giving up. Eventually, the most important element we want to develop is Ojas as it gives us physical and psychological endurance. This can be achieved via the right diet, tonic herbs, control of the senses, and devotion.